Fasting six days in Shawwaal

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan then follows it with six days of Shawwaal, it is as if he fasted a lifetime (whole year).”

[Sahih Muslim]

Note: Shawwaal is the month after Ramadan, It is the month we are currently in. You can start fasting the six days of Shawwaal from the second day of Shawwaal, because it is haraam to fast on the day of Eid.

Commentary:

Fasting six days of Shawwaal after the obligatory fast of Ramadan is Sunnah (recommended).It is recommended for the Muslim to fast six days of Shawwaal, and in this there is great virtue and an immense reward. Whoever fasts these six days will have recorded for him a reward as if he had fasted a whole year as the above Hadith indicates.

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) explained this when he said: “Whoever fasts for six days after (Eid) al-Fitr has completed the year: (whoever does a good deed (hasanah) will have ten hasanah like it).”According to another report: “Allah has made for each hasanah ten like it, so a month is like fasting ten months, and fasting six days completes the year.” [Sunan al-Nisaa’i and Sunan Ibn Maajah. See also Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, 1/421].

It was also narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah with the wording: “Fasting for the month of Ramadan brings the reward of ten like it, and fasting for six days brings the reward of two months, and that is the fasting of the whole year.”

The Hanbali and Shaafa’i fuqaha’ (may Allah have mercy upon them) explained that fasting six days of Shawwaal after fasting Ramadan makes it as if one has fasted for an entire year of obligatory fasts, because the multiplication of the reward applies even to naafil fasts, because each hasanah brings the reward of ten like it.

Another of the important benefits of fasting six days of Shawwaal is that is makes up for any shortfall in a person’s obligatory Ramadan fasts, because no one is free of shortcomings or sins that have a negative effect on his fasting.

On the Day of Resurrection, some of his naafil deeds will be taken to make up the shortcomings in his obligatory deeds, as the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The first thing for which people will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be their salaah (prayer). Our Lord, may He be glorified and exalted, will say to His angels – although He knows best – ‘Look at the salah of My slave, whether it is complete or incomplete.’ If it is perfect, it will be recorded as perfect, and if something is lacking, He will say, ‘Look and see whether My slave did any voluntary (naafil) prayers.’ If he did some voluntary prayers, [Allah] will say, Complete the obligatory actions of My slave from his voluntary actions.’ Then all his actions will be dealt with in a similar manner.” (Sunan Abu Dawood).

When should a Muslim start fasting six days of Shawwaal?

You can start fasting six days of Shawwaal from the second day of Shawwaal, because it is haraam to fast on the day of Eid. You can fast the six days at any time during Shawwaal, although the best of good deeds are those which are done at the soonest possible time because Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings):

“so compete in good deeds” [Al-Maaidah 5:48]

“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord” [Aal Imran 3:133]

[Moosa (alaihi assalam) said:] “and I hastened to You, O my Lord, that You might be pleased” [Ta-Ha 20:84]

Do the six days of Shawwaal have to be fasted consecutively?

The scholars (may Allah have mercy upon them) said, “These days do not have to be fasted immediately after Eid al-Fitr; it is permissible to start fasting them one or more days after Eid, and they may be done consecutively or separately during the month of Shawwaal, according to what is easier for a person. There is plenty of room for maneuver in this matter, and this is not obligatory, it is Sunnah.”

Can you fast the six days of Shawwal in another month?

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: “It is not prescribed to make them up after the end of Shawwaal, because they are Sunnah and the time for them has passed, whether one missed them for an excuse or otherwise.”

He said concerning one who fasted four days in Shawwaal and did not complete six because of circumstances: “Fasting the six days of Shawwaal is a mustahabb (recommended) act of worship but is not obligatory; but you will have the reward of whatever you fast of them, and there is the hope of a complete reward if there was a legitimate shar’i excuse for not completing them, because the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “If a person falls sick or travels, Allah will decree for him (the reward of) what he used to do when he was not travelling and was healthy.” [Sahih Bukhari] So you do not have to make up what you did not do. And Allah is the Source of strength.” [Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz (15/389, 395)]

Observing a voluntary fast when you still need to make up days from Ramadan?

This issue is known to the scholars as observing naafil fasts before making up missed Ramadan fasts. There is a difference of scholarly opinion concerning this matter. Some scholars say that it is haraam (prohibited) to observe naafil fasts before making up days that one owes, because it is more important to start with an obligatory action than a naafil one.

Some of the scholars say that it is permissible.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy upon him) was asked about combining making up a missed obligation and doing something that is mustahabb (recommended): is it permissible for a person to do the mustahabb action and make up the obligatory action later on, or should he do the obligatory action first, such as fasting the day ‘Ashoora’ which coincides with making up a missed Ramadan fast?

With regard to obligatory and voluntary fasts, what is prescribed in sharee’ah and what makes sense is to start with the obligatory fasts and then do the naafil ones, because the obligatory fast is a debt which must be paid, whereas the naafil fast is voluntary and is to be done if one can manage it, otherwise there is no sin on one.

Based on this, we say to the one who owes a missed Ramadan fast: make up what you owe before you observe a voluntary fast. If he observes a voluntary fast before making up what he owes then the correct view is that his voluntary fast is valid so long as there is still enough time to make up the missed fasts, because a person may make up missed Ramadan fasts so long as there is still enough time for him to do so before the next Ramadan comes.

So long as there is still plenty of time, it is permissible for him to observe voluntary fasts. This is similar to the case of obligatory prayers, such as if a person offers a naafil prayer before an obligatory prayer when there is still plenty of time, this is permissible.

Whoever fasts on the day of ‘Arafah or ‘Ashoora’, and still owes some days from Ramadan, his fast is valid. But if he has the intention of fasting this day to make up for a missed Ramadan fast, he will have two rewards – one for the day of ‘Arafah or ‘Ashoora’ and another for making up the missed fast. This applies to all voluntary fasts that are not connected to Ramadan. With regard to fasting the six days of Shawwaal, these are connected to Ramadan and can only be done after making up missed Ramadan fasts. If a person fasts these days before making up his missed Ramadan fasts, he will not get the reward for them, because the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan then follows it with six days of Shawwaal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.”

It is known that the one who still has some days to make up is not regarded as having fasted Ramadan until he makes up those days. Some people think that if they fear Shawwaal is going to end soon and they fast the six days even though they still owe some days from Ramadan, that this is acceptable. This is a mistake, because these six days cannot be fasted until a person has made up the days that he owes from Ramadan. [Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 20/438]

Combining three of the six days of Shawwaal with the Ayyaam al-Beed?

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy upon him) was also asked: Will a person be rewarded if he combines three of the six days of Shawwaal with the Ayyaam al-Beed (Days 13,14,15 from every month)?

He replied that hopefully the person will be rewarded for that, because it is true that he fasted the six days, and it is also true that he fasted the Ayyaam al-Beed, and the Bounty of Allah is great indeed.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy upon him) was also asked about this matter and he replied as follows:

“Yes, if he fasts six days of Shawwaal, he does not have to fast Ayyaam al-Beed during that month too, whether he fasted the six days at the same time as al-Ayyaam al-Beed (the 13th, 14th and 15th of the hijri month) or before them or after them, because it is true that he has fasted three days of the month. ‘Aa’ishah (radi Allahu anha) said: ‘The Prophet  (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) used to fast three days of every month, and he did not bother whether he fasted them at the beginning of the month or in the middle or at the end.” [It was narrated from Mu’aadhah al-‘Adawiyyah that she asked ‘Aa’ishah (radi Allahu anha), the wife of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), “Did the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam)  fast three days of every month?” She said, “Yes.” She said to her: “Which days of the month did he fast?” She said, “He did not mind which days of the month he would fast.” (Sahih Muslim)].

This case is similar to that of Tahiyyat al-Masjid (prayer to “greet the mosque” upon entering),, which does not have to be done if one prays a regular prayer upon entering the mosque. So if you enter the mosque and pray a regular Sunnah prayer, you do not have to pray Tahiyyat al-masjid…”

And Allah knows best!

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